Kuldip Nayar, renowned journalist, author and human rights activist passed away on Thursday in Delhi. He was 95. He is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites were performed at 1pm at Lodhi crematorium in Delhi.
A former editor at The Indian Express, Nayar fought fiercely for press freedom, especially during Emergency. In 2015, he was honoured with the Ramnath Goenka Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to journalism. He authored 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”. In the 90s, Nayar served as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1997.
Born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan) in 1923, Nayar graduated in law. He studied journalism and began his career with an Urdu newspaper called Anjam. He later headed various newspapers in Delhi. He was a widely known columnist and wrote for newspapers across the world.
Nayar was among the journalists who had staunchly opposed the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi. During Emergency, he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for leading a protest against the excesses of the administration. Click here to read Nayar’s writings in the Indian Express.
Reflecting on the emergency period in India, Nayar in an opinion piece in The Indian Express wrote, “If I were to explain this failing to the Indians of today or tomorrow, I would say that we faltered as a nation. Indira Gandhi switched off the lights of democracy to make us grope in the darkness of police raj.” He also expressed dismay over the way the “soft Hindutva is overtaking the print and electronic media.” “Seeing how conformist the press is today, I don’t think it would be necessary for the government to take any extra-constitutional measures. Newspapers and television channels have themselves become so pro-establishment that the government doesn’t have to do anything to make them fall in line,” he wrote.
Express Opinion | When you crawl, unasked
Nayar’s resistance to Emergency was also hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I respect veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar ji, he fought for freedom during the emergency, he may be a harsh critic of us but I salute him for this,” he had said. Condoling Nayar’s death, Modi today called him an “intellectual giant” and “frank and fearless.”
Kuldip Nayar was an intellectual giant of our times. Frank and fearless in his views, his work spanned across many decades. His strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to a better India will always be remembered. Saddened by his demise. My condolences.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 23, 2018
President Kovind called Nayar “a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency.” “Sad to hear of the passing of Kuldip Nayar, veteran editor and writer, diplomat and parliamentarian, and a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency. His readers will miss him. Condolences to his family and associates,” he wrote on Twitter. In a letter to Kudip’s wife Bharti Nayar, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the journalist “wore many hats in his decades of public life.”
In Pictures | Remembering Kuldip Nayar
Nayar was also known for his efforts to improve frosty relationship between India and Pakistan including leading peace activists to light candles on the Independence days of Pakistan and India at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.
Meera Dewan, a filmmaker, had also made a film called In His Inner Voice: Kuldip Nayar for Films Division. “My aim was to show the history of the Partition and post-Independent India through the journey of a man who has been the nation’s conscience keeper,” Meera had said.